It happened today - June 20, 2016

If I talk about slavers raiding Ireland you’re thinking Roman times, right? Well, think again. The largest Barbary Pirate attack anywhere in the British Isles happened on June 20, 1631, the “sack of Baltimore” in West Cork, Ireland. A hundred and eight people were seized.

Oddly, the leader of the raid was one “Murad Reis the Younger” whose actual name was “Jan Janszoon van Haarlem” which does indeed mean John son of John from Haarlem and as you surmised means he was Dutch. Originally a Dutch privateer harassing Spanish ships on behalf of his government during the Eighty Years’ War, he found this career insufficiently lucrative so set up in the political chaos of the Barbary Coast (a set of semi-independent city-states under loose and belligerent Ottoman influence), converted to Islam and under another Dutch pirate convert to Islam renamed Slemen Reis began a career of piracy, robbery, villainy and ransom negotiation.

He was eventually captured by the Knights of Malta, imprisoned and tortured. But he escaped after a massive “corsair” attack and apparently died old, honoured and in luxury.

As for the Barbary pirates themselves, they carried on in loathsome style harrying and enslaving infidels for fun and profit until Britain and Spain intimidated them into quiescence, Jefferson sent the Marines (it is often forgotten these days that the reason he had a Koran was to discover whether it really did authorize enslaving infidels as he had been told by a North African diplomat), Monroe sent them back and the British navy followed up when the Algerian ruler repudiated the treaty and threatened to kill all Christian inhabitants, and then the US and European nations adopted a firm policy of sending lead and iron rather than gold and silver and then colonized the region and pretty much squashed the repulsive business.

Nowadays the region is again in turmoil and aggressive capturing of slaves has reappeared. History isn’t was, it’s is. And we need the same clarity of purpose and determination that the West exhibited after the Napoleonic Wars to deal with it again.